Marijuana company Curaleaf sued by man who says he unwittingly took CBD drops containing THC
An Idaho man on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against Curaleaf, one of the nation’s largest marijuana companies, claiming he took what he believed to be CBD wellness drops – but who actually contained the psychoactive ingredient THC.
Oregon regulators say confusion at a Curaleaf manufacturing plant resulted in hundreds of mislabelled bottles and at least a dozen other consumers also took the THC-contaminated drops. Wednesday’s lawsuit appears to be the first against the company in this case.
“I was with friends and started to disconnect from reality,” said Jason Crawforth, 51. He said he bought the drops last month in Oregon and first took them on September 3 while camping in Nevada. “My body started to shake. I couldn’t stop my arms and legs from shaking. And my mind was disappearing.
Unaware of what caused his bizarre symptoms, Crawforth said he took another dose of Curaleaf’s brand of Select CBD drops the next day – then had a similar reaction while driving a motorhome to Idaho.
“If my friend wasn’t with me, I would have knocked this RV off the road or crashed into an oncoming car,” Crawforth said. He ended up spending hours in an emergency room, where doctors informed Crawforth he had THC in his system.
This baffled Crawforth, who said he had never used recreational marijuana. But after a friend who took drops from the same bottle also ended up in the emergency room, Crawforth said he deduced the likely culprit and notified Oregon regulators. He said he believed the mislabelled bottle contained a very high dose of THC, much higher than what recreational marijuana users typically consume.
The Oregon Alcohol and Cannabis Commission said last week that Curaleaf production workers had somehow mixed its Select line of CBD drops, which are not supposed to produce an effect, with a range of Select marijuana products. It is an unprecedented error that Curaleaf attributes to “human error”.
“We are grateful to the OLCC and to the people who brought this serious matter to our attention,” Curaleaf said in a written statement. “We sincerely apologize to all customers affected by this error. “
Curaleaf said it is reviewing its manufacturing process to improve quality assurance. Although the company acknowledged her blunder, it declined to comment on Crawforth’s trial.
And Curaleaf did not respond to requests for a detailed explanation of how it confused the two products or indicated whether the company held anyone responsible for its blunder.
The OLCC says at least 13 unsuspecting consumers have taken the mislabeled CBD drops. Crawforth’s case appears to be the one that first caught the attention of regulators.
Last week, the commission ordered the recall of 1,000 milligram bottles of non-flavored CBD Select drops labeled “broad spectrum.” CBD is made from hemp but generally does not contain substantial levels of THC.
Regulators in Oregon subsequently recalled 1,000-milligram bottles of flavorless 30ml THC Select Tincture drops. These drops apparently contained the CBD product, not the THC as the label says.
The OLCC said on Wednesday it was continuing its investigation into the botched labeling and declined to comment on penalties Curaleaf, the manufacturer, could incur. Curaleaf’s headquarters are in Massachusetts, but the plant‘s error appears to have taken place at the Portland facility, according to bottle labeling.
Curaleaf bought Select, a Portland-based brand also known as Cura Cannabis, last year in a $ 400 million all-stock transaction.
This is the second major production shutdown for the Select brand. Last year, the company paid a record fine of $ 110,000 for “dishonest conduct” for claiming the vapers were 100% marijuana, when they actually contained other additives. The former owners of the brand agreed last month to pay $ 500,000 to settle the civil dispute in the case.
This case was brought by Portland attorney Michael Fuller, who is also representing Crawforth in his litigation. The lawsuit, filed in Portland U.S. District Court on Wednesday, targets up to 1% of Curaleaf’s net worth and says it could add more plaintiffs.
Curaleaf, whose shares are traded on a Canadian stock exchange, has a market value of $ 8.3 billion.
Crawforth said his mother used the Select CBD drops and he also started using them to relieve pain from recent surgery. He bought the contaminated bottle in Gearhart on the Oregon coast and then took it with him on a camping trip to Nevada.
Nearly a month later, Crawforth said he still felt like he was in the dark.
“I hope this is not a permanent state of mind,” he said. “I feel like I’ve aged 20 years in three weeks.
The OLCC said Select produced 500 bottles of mislabeled CBD and that 200 of them were still on store shelves when it issued its recall notice last week.
“I’ve never had a mislabelled product, and it’s pretty scary when you get something you don’t anticipate,” Crawforth said. “I want other people not to have to go through something like this. There should have been better controls in place.